Social engineering and what it means

Social engineering and what it means 

Social engineering. THE BEST DEFINITIONS I’VE FOUND FOR IT ARE—”Any act that influences a person to make decisions that may or may not be in their best interests”.  Followed by—”The practical application of social principals to particular social problems”.  In the case of criminals email and people encourage you to perform a task that will benefit someone else with no concern of harm to you.  


Examples of Social engineering are  

1) A Phishing email asking you to click a link and put in your credentials on a web site that may or may not look like a Wesleyan page or tool.  

2) A website that has a pop-up warning you that your computer has been compromised and to call some provided phone number.  The “support” personnel are criminals looking for your credit card info and access to your computer.  They will ask to install software. It may be remote-control software they will leave on your system to access your computer, silently and without your knowledge.  It may be a package of software that will execute and make security holes on your system granting remote access and create an account to allow the criminals free and unfettered access to your computer. They are hunting for passwords to banking or credit card sites or online purchasing sites like or They are looking for things like Tax returns and SSNs to impersonate you. With this information they can take out loans in your name or get credit issued to them. 

3) You might be called by the “IRS” and told police are on the way to arrest you. You may be asked to transfer funds by authorizing payment from your bank or via some payment cards from a convenience store or make a payment by credit card.  

4) You might receive a call from “The authorities” that they have a family member in custody and require bail money to be transferred immediately to gain the family member’s release.  


Criminals are clever and thoughtful about how they want to take advantage of you.  They are very good at psychology. They understand people react to certain words like “because” when being asked why the criminal on the phone needs something. They know how to gain your trust via phrasing. This is both in speech and in text.  The more strongly worded and urgent an email or call sounds the recipient will react, accordingly with a raised sense of urgency to resolve the issue.  This reduces clarity of thinking, puts you in a more vulnerable position and more likely to be taken advantage of.